A sculpture of a "vandalised" priest by the underground artist Banksy has gone on display today alongside 17th-century Old Masters.
The artist, known for his graffiti on the streets of cities across the world, has created Cardinal Sin, a replica of an 18th-century stone bust which has had the face sawn off and replaced with a mosaic of bathroom tiles.
The effect is to replicate the pixellation techniques used in the media to prevent identification of victims of sex crimes. It is believed Cardinal Sin is a comment on the sexual abuse scandal which has engulfed the Catholic Church.
The sculpture has been placed alongside works by Van Dyck and Poussin at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.
The Walker unveiled the priest sculpture to the public today after it was given on indefinite loan by the artist. It has never been seen in public before.
In a statement issued by the gallery on behalf of the mysterious artist, Banksy said: "I love everything about the Walker Gallery - the Old Masters, the contemporary art, the rude girl in the cafe.
"And when I found out Mr Walker built it with beer money, it became my favourite gallery.
"The statue? I guess you could call it a Christmas present.
"At this time of year it's easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity - the lies, the corruption, the abuse."
Reyahn King, director of art galleries at National Museums Liverpool, said the Walker was "thrilled" to display the work of a "major contemporary artist".
"It's a huge coup and we are sure his work will spark a reaction with visitors."
The sculpture has been placed in the Walker's 17th Century Old Masters gallery.
Ms King said: "Banksy specified that it be shown alongside our period collection and we were very happy to oblige."
Elsewhere in the city, a new work of graffiti by Banksy has been vandalised.
A stencilled bi-plane, which appeared last week on the side wall of an office block, was daubed overnight with "BANKSY FOR ROBBO" in red spray paint.